New partnership addresses affordable housing in rural areas

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We all know South Dakota has plenty of jobs, but finding places for people to live where those jobs exist, isn’t always easy, especially in rural areas.

Avera Health and the Rural Electric Economic Development Fund announced a new $10 million dollar partnership today to help people build new homes and apartments in certain areas of the state that sometimes get overlooked.

Avera Health has clinics all over South Dakota, including here in Dell Rapids. But filling job openings can be a struggle partly due to available housing.

“We have jobs, but if we don’t have affordable, decent places for people, then we’re missing a significant piece of the puzzle,” Avera Health President and CEO Bob Sutton said.

That’s why Avera Health has partnered with the REED Fund and committed $2 million.

“This partnership with Avera will help this region begin to address the urgent need for quality workforce housing, and will result in healthier communities,” Reed Board President Ken Schlimgen said.

The REED Fund has invested more than $100 million to the region through hundreds of loans.

But it’s not just affecting the healthcare industry.

“All business sectors including health care and electric cooperatives and rulers are looking for highly skilled staff, it can be a real challenge to recruit workforce without quality housing options,” East River Electric Power Cooperative General Manager, Tom Boyko said.

It’s a critical issue that they say needs to be addressed if South Dakota wants to retain young workers.

“If housing doesn’t exist to suit their particular needs. They’re going to look elsewhere for both housing and jobs. This needs to come to an end, because we need workers across Avera, we have some 1,300 open jobs, we’re just like virtually every other employer in our footprint across our state. We have openings that we need to fill,” Sutton said.

With this partnership REED has committed an initial $4 million with plans to grow the total fund to $10 million.

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